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Through the looking glass: a view on awards from all angles

By Victoria Stanley, Associate Director

The first time I was asked to write a Communiqué entry, I was excited and nervous in equal parts; this was an opportunity to showcase the work of which I’m most proud, to write it up for the world to see, pitted against my peers for industry leaders to judge. Nervous, because I didn’t know if I could do justice to my amazing project in my entry; the write-up can be a long and semi-arduous (okay, arduous) task.

Likewise, my first year entering as part of the team for the PharmaTimes Communications Team of the Year was an experience; although we narrowly missed winning, we were highly commended.  And most importantly, we learnt from the experience. Our team went on to bigger and better things, subsequently winning three years in a row (definitely not all down to me, I might add).

Most recently, I was asked to join the panel of judges for the Aspiring Communications Manager category at the PharmaTimes finals day, and I can now say that I’ve seen awards from all sides and it is eye opening!

It goes without saying that in order to write an entry, or be able to pull together a pitch in two hours (Comms Team of the Year is INTENSE!), you need to have some basic capabilities. Can you pull a cohesive story together for your plan or project, show how you met (or plan to meet) the objectives with measurable outcomes, can you observe the basic rules of grammar…?! Those are pretty uninspiring ‘learnings’ for me to bring to the table (particularly as I’m sure the answer would be ‘yes’). Now I’m looking through my looking glass at the different aspects of awards entry from both sides of the table, so I’m going to put my spin on this.

Remember why you’re entering in the first place – what made this work so brilliant? Did you spot an insight no-one else had, or have an amazingly creative idea that would get noticed? Did you truly move the needle in terms of improving the lives of patients? That’s why we come to work each day, right?! The entries I’ve sent into Communiqué have been some of the work I’m most proud of, where our team’s professional achievement shone through, and I wanted to put that in print. You want to inspire those judges and your passion for the work needs to show. Those are the entries they remember (so long as you met the objectives – they are pretty obsessed with that).

If you’re up there presenting, such as at a PharmaTimes finals day (or in a pitch!) remember to have faith in yourself – the people looking at you are rooting for you, willing you to do well. Sure, there’s a scoresheet to help them stay objective across all the entries, but showing your thought process and what you come up with, then delivering your recommendations with confidence and passion – that’s true communications professional potential.

Awards in our industry are, in my opinion, so important. Positive client and colleague feedback is great, but translating your work into a submission, then having a completely objective person say: ‘that is an amazing programme’ or ‘you absolutely nailed that comms plan’ – that gives a different type of reward. So when someone suggests you write that entry, or apply for that awards finals day, and you wonder if you’re up to it? Know that you are. Know that it’s worth it.  Know champagne awaits at the end…

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